9 July 1999

Electric grant benefits

A NORTHUMBERLAND farm has become the first rural business in the county to benefit from a share of a £900,000 grant towards the cost of laying on a mains electricity supply.

Waterfalls Farm, Bellingham, is owned by Billy and Pamela Lawson and is one of 260 farms and rural businesses identified as potential applicants for a share in the grant available through the European Regional Development Guidance and Guarantee Funds.

But despite Northumberland having more off-mains electricity properties than any other English county, just 30 applications have been submitted so far.

And Doug Mitchley, project officer for the Electricity for Enterprise group, is stressing the need for eligible businesses to get in an early application.

"All grants need to be identified by October 15. There is unlikely to be another opportunity for help with electricity supplies when this scheme closes," he says.

Under the scheme, a grant is available for up to 50% of the cost of connection to mains electricity supply, or to a 24-hour power system, up to a maximum of £12,000.

Applicants have to meet the full cost of the installation and then receive a grant refund of 50% of the costs.

To help bridge the gap between the timing of the two payments, arrangements have been made for a short-term, low- interest loan to be available. &#42